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Anyone using HD600s with a Vali? Just wondering how they pair.
One thing not to do regarding ringing: scratching your finger along the volume control. I thought I saw a smudge on the control and tried to scratch it away. R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r....
Still enjoying the Vali immensely, hooked up to an iFi iDAC and DT 770 or 880 pros, depending on environment.
I've been looking for a tube amp for a while now, to get a taste of that purported magical tube warmth, and a Vali / Modi stack seems to be the ticket. I just have a couple of questions, since I'm new to the tube world:
I know that the Vali is a "hybrid" tube amp, whatever that means. How does it sound compared to, say, the Little Dot MkIII in terms in "tubiness" (i.e. rich mids, warmth, etc.)?
I've heard of 'tube rolling' with the Little Dot MkIII before, which to my understanding just means switching the tubes for a different sound. Is this possible with the Vali as well?
What exactly is the disadvantage to using Vali with low impedence dynamics like my Grados?
How well does Vali pair with the HE-400s?
A friend of mine brought over his little dot mk iii and modi over two days ago and we did comparisons with the little dot and the vali, with the nfb-10es2 as the dac and the hd600s + hd800s as the headphones. Will comment on the two when I get back from dinner.
Looking forward to it!
So pretty much the same as the Vali. Has anyone done comparisons of the 2?
I did all of my comparing with the hd800 (anax 2.0 modded) while my friend used his hd600s (old black drivers). The little dot was equipped with the Sylvania Gold Brand 5654 tubes. Overall our impressions between the two were very similar; with me noticing more differences than he did.
Soundstage - It felt like the little dot had a little bit more depth to it than the vali, however, the vali was a little bit wider. The Vali's soundstage was more coherent, with the instruments and vocals filling the soundstage more appropiately.
Bass - The Vali was punchier, and also brought out more subbass than the little dot.
Mids - The vali had more wetness to it than the little dot, despite it being a a hybrid compared to a OTL. The mids on the vali were more enjoyable than on the little dot.
Treble - The vali was slightly brighter than the little dot and stood out more, due to the lively nature of the vali. It was also more detailed as well.
Other comments - The vali was more dynamic and lively sounding whereas the little dot is the typical OTL tube amp with its warm sounding and smooth nature. However due to the smoothness, the amp was lacking dynamics. The bass and cymbals hit harder on the vali, which I felt was more true to the track's nature The Vali was more revealing and transparent than the little dot and brings out more of your dac than the little dot does. It will scale better with your dacs than the little dot as well.
No direct comparisons but based on my memory of it from the summer, the Aune T1 is pretty subpar.
I feel quite similar. For the Aune T1, I personally couldn't use it as a DAC / Amp combination as there just wasn't a good chemistry going on there. During the time that I had mine, I basically just used the DAC portion and paired it up with my Little Dot I+ so I could tolerate it. I hate to be coming down so hard on the Aune T1, but it's a device that I only had for about 2 weeks, and then was able to sell it locally. To me, the Aune T1 could be selling for $50 and I still wouldn't bit for one again at that price. Apologies if I had to be a bit blunt with my answer, but my experience with it wasn't memorable in a good way. Others might have had a very different experience.
Now, back to the Vali. For me, I'm basically back to square one again. When the RTV silicone was curing, the amp was working great - the microphonics were greatly reduced as reflected in my post. However, as the RTV dried, I noticed that somehow the silicone didn't have the same effect once it hardened up a bit. Plus, some of the white foam had started to pull away from the PCB board, which had me making my attempts to apply more RTV to hold things down and into place. Then, taking a queue from the members who were talking about using grommets or "O" rings on the tubes, I was able to get some of the appropriate size on my way home. Yes, I was the geek walking into Home Depot with the Vali PCB so I could ensure I would purchase the correct size of "O" rings. Well, when I got home, I scraped the RTV off of the edge of the tubes where I had applied it over this past weekend. I then was able to slip 3 "O" rings onto each tube, and carefully space them apart. The result? Not really improvement at all. The microphonics are still there.
Now, I don't want to throw the Vali under the bus, nor out the window at this point in time. The microphonics are there - noticed essentially only when you power the amp on, and then all goes quiet in about 30 seconds. Provided your amp is on a very stable surface, the changes of having any further issues with microphonics during your listening session are quite rare. At the moment, my Vali is sitting on top of my Asgard and that seems to provide quite a good buffer to isolate the Vali a bit better and keep essentially all vibrations minimal, if at all.
My advice is to do essentially as I stated in the previous paragraph. Get the amp onto a solid base where you will be able to enjoy it. Be patient for 30 seconds and allow the amp to properly power up and get into operating mode, where then the microphonics will slowly fade away so you can enjoy your music. I personally think that the merits of the Vali and the quite nice sound it produces should not be overlooked. I still can't believe the sounds I'm hearing from a $119 amplifier in the Vali.
Thanks for posting this. I'm considering getting one or both, and selling whichever I like least. This will be my first foray into tubes, and I must admit I am at least interested in being able to roll. Sounds like you would go for the Vali? I'm thinking that's the direction I'm going to go. Can't really lose for $119, and I've been really happy with Schiit's customer service.
I recall some DIY vendor used to sell grommets made from a lossy vibration damping material. Might have been Partsconnexion or Michael Percy. I have some buried in my parts drawer somewhere. It was years ago, though, and PC doesn't carry anything like that currently.
I suspect these might work better than regular rubber grommets.
If anyone knows where to get these, it might be worth a try.
Yep, sorry I didn't see the talk about O-rings/grommets/etc earlier. We tried all of that (and a couple of other things, too) and they don't help appreciably with the microphonics. If they had, that's the way we would have gone. Believe it or not, we have a real engineering department here.
Why doesn't damping the tube make the microphonics better? Simple--the tube glass isn't ringing, it's the internal structure of the tube, which you cannot touch.
The best solution would be a small antigravity device to float the tubes in open air, but short of that, the solution we arrived at is the best from a production standpoint. In happier news, though, we're now applying an additional, long-term noise sort on testing to weed out the unacceptable "ringers."
fwiw - here's an opinion suggesting the operating point can have influence upon microphony (I've not read it yet in depth) http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/tubes-valves/152752-jan6418-microphony.html
I've had octal tube 6SL7 RIAA preamps very microphonic - one 30 yrs ago by Bruce Moore plus a recent one with solid state CS and anode follower buffer for ripping lps - imo it sounds far more textured in timbre than IC based phono stages - it might get in trouble with loud playback if situated near speakers ;^)
That's a different tube--operating points and microphony are completely different in the 6418. How do we know? We tried them.
We also tried lots of different operating points on the 6088s, as well as running the heaters under-voltaged, and all the little things we've learned over the years about tubes. Remember, Mike Moffat was one of the guys who brought tubes back into audio--in the late 1970s. We've been doing this for a while...